Hormonal Contraception

Hormonal contraceptives are effective in preventing more than 99% of unplanned pregnancies. Used regularly, they work by helping to control a womens monthly cycles in order to prevent pregnancy. 
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Hormonal contraception, available as an oral tablet (the Contraceptive Pill, often referred to as just the “Pill”), patch or implant, is a form of contraception which when used regularly can help to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It is one of the most convenient types of contraception and, if used correctly, can be up to 99% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and allow for uninterrupted sexual freedom compared to barrier methods such as condoms or diaphragms. 

Hormonal contraceptives contain artificial hormones, similar to the ones found in women. There are two types, those containing progesterones only (such as the Progesterone-only pil) and those containing a combination of Oestrogens and Progesterones (such as in the Combined oral contraceptive pill).

Hormonal contraceptives work by regulating and altering a women’s natural hormonal levels to prevent ovulation, and thickening bodily fluids such as cervical mucus to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg and implantation occurring. These combined actions prevent pregnancy.

They do not however protect against sexually transmitted diseases for which barrier methods are a better choice.
Oral contraceptives are usually taken at the same time each day as a single tablet. Progesterone-only-pills (POPs) are taken at the same time every single day. Combined-oral-contraceptives (COCs) are taken for 21 days, followed by a 7 day break.

As POPs are taken daily, they can alter periods which may be much lighter or infrequent, or they may stop altogether. COCs do not stop periods and women taking this type of contraceptive will usually have their period during the 7 day break, much like a regular cycle.

Depending on your choice of pill, your prescriber may recommend to use additional methods of contraception for the first 7-days whilst the Pil starts working.

Patches and implants reduce the need for remembering to take a tablet every day and are just as effective. Evra, a contraceptive patch is applied every 7 days for 3 weeks, with a weeks break. Implants will need to be inserted by a Doctor or nurse and can last for several months without needing to be changed.
Hormonal contraceptions is one of the most convenient methods of contraception. It allows women to be confident in avoiding unwanted pregnancy and allows an uninterrupted sex life compared to barrier methods such as diaphragms or condoms.

Some women prefer to take the Pill as it can help manage other conditions such as Acne, irregular periods or painful periods, and can often make periods much lighter or even prevent them in some cases. They can also be beneficial in conditions such as PCOS in controlling hormone levels and reducing symptoms such as weight gain, facial hair and period irregularities.

There are usually some side-effects, however these can be easily managed as there are several treatment options to suit women of differing needs. Side-effects can include headaches, sickness, mood changes, period changes, weight gain, acne and breast tenderness. 

There is some evidence to suggest an increased risk of some conditions, such as blood pressure, blood clots and some cancers, so prescribers will usually consider individual risk factors before recommending the Pill to some women. Whilst they may increase the risk of some cancers, they also offer protection against other types of cancer such as cancers such as ovarian or womb cancers.

Hormonal contraception may not be safe for people with
  • High blood pressure
  • a history of heart disease or blood clots
  • a history of certain cancers such as breast, endometrial, cervical or ovarian
  • a history of migraines
  • smokers over the age of 35 years.

Risk of Cancers - What does this mean?

The risk of cancer varies from person to person. There is a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer when taking the pill, whilst the risk of ovarian or womb cancer may be reduced.

The increase in the risk of getting breast cancer is around 7%. Whilst this sounds high, in terms of numbers, this means only 13 more women out of 100,000 would get breast cancer when taking the Pill.

The risk of cancers reduces after stopping the Pill and is no different to someone who has not taken the Pill after 10 years of stopping.

Whilst they may increase the risk of some cancers, they also offer protection against other types of cancer such as cancers such as ovarian or womb cancers.

If you are concerned about the risks, speak to your prescriber who can tell you more about these so you can make an informed decision.
There are several treatments available other than tablets which can help. Treating underlying causes of erectile dysfunction in extremely important such resolving any treatable conditions such as depression, anxiety or any nervous or blood vessel diseases.

Lifestyle changes can also be extremely beneficial and should be tried before resorting to drug treatments. Avoiding alcohol prior to sexual intercourse can be beneficials, as well as giving up smoking. Exercise can help to improve blood flow to all parts of the body and can also help to reduce stress and anxiety which may cause erectile dysfunction.

Other alternative options include
  • Pumps
  • Implants
  • Rings to help maintain erections
  • Surgery
  • Counselling
There are several alternatives to hormonal contraception which can be equally as effective.

Condoms or diaphragms are suitable alternatives and are the only type of contraception which can prevent against several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Implants are a suitable alternative, some may contain hormones, often referred to as Intra Uterine Systems (IUS) where as others, such as the copper IUD are drug free and can be left in place for several months. A similar alternative includes vaginal rings which are inserted by a GP or nurse and left in place to prevent pregnancy. GPs can also offer injectable hormonal contraception

Some couples may choose natural family planning which is free from all drugs and devices, and involves timing sexual intercourse and avoiding the most fertile periods of the cycle, monitoring body temperature to track ovulation, “pulling out” prior to ejaculation, monitoring cervical mucus secretions to predict ovulation or a combination of all these. These methods can be effective if used correctly but require participation and understanding by both sexual partners and work better in long term relationships. In practice, these can be difficult to adhere to for many couples, and the “pulling out” technique can still lead to pregnancy if unprotected sex occurs when the female is fertile.

Permanent solutions such as male and female sterilization are available as surgical options for those who do not wish to have children in future.

Microgynon 30 Tablets

Prices from £15.99

Recognized brand
Comibined Contraceptive Pil
Full Strength

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